“She’s a writing machine.”
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. There’s this perception among my writerly friends that I just churn out thousands of words, one after the other–and nothing else. Just eat, sleep, breathe, and write (and as to sleeping, I apparently don’t do much of that. HA!). I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s not true. Not even close.
Before I started working on this post, I was working an online jigsaw puzzle. Jigidi.com—it’s a brain saver. Trust me.
Look, we all need something to help us recharge. I don’t care what you do—doctor, farmer, data entry, bottle washing, landscaping, diaperectomies, dust removal specialist, or… well, author. Your body and brain grow weary. And just like a car, they need a chance to refuel.
Have you ever read about the fuel efficiency of cars? Dad used to tell us to fill up by 1/4 tank. So, Mom did, but I always wondered if there was anything to the whole, “better for the engine/gas mileage” thing. Turns out, it was even a bigger deal “back then” but now it’s still preferred. I double-checked HERE just to be sure.
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What do cars have to do with how I recharge?
Well, think about it. Whether your fuel gauge is at 1/8 tank or your battery is down under 20%. If you have anywhere to go, you’re running on fumes. And that’s a recipe for disaster. Oh, and before you let me have it with both barrels and point out that it’s better for batteries in laptops and phones to die all the way every day, I offer you THIS.
So, after years of running myself ragged until I had no brains left before taking a break, I finally learned to schedule those refuel times before I fell apart.
Look, it felt selfish, okay? I mean, as moms, we have all these little people who need us—lots of us. Great, heaping, gobs of us (which might explain my size, actually…).
But if we don’t recharge, if we don’t fill that tank now and then, those people who love and need us are just going to get the “fumes” that we have left. And that’s no good for anyone.
So, I learned to accept that sometimes I’ll need to recharge.
We all have our preferred ways of recharging, but here is how I recharge. 4 ways, in fact.
Take a nap.
Most of the time when I need to refuel, it’s because I’m just tired. And let’s face it. At that point, I need sleep. So, I can try to keep going, or I can take a nap.
Of course “back in the day,” I couldn’t do that as easily. If I went to bed with toddlers up and at ‘em, we’d have had a mess on our hands. A dangerous one. My kids were rather well-behaved, but you can’t expect four kids, six and under, to stay out of trouble for hours while Mom is snoozing behind closed doors.
But I’ll admit that I learned how to do a 10-minute rotation nap when my husband got home. He’d come in, I’d lie down for 10 minutes on one side, and then rotate to “bake evenly.” I got up, and shocker of shockers, I could function!
These days, I don’t have to do that. Which is good, because when I’m tired, I just need sleep. These days, if I don’t get it, we’ve got a problem. It could wear me out for a week. Not good. So, if I wake up at 2 p.m. (rather normal time for me) and am tired at 4 p.m., it’s time for sleep. I usually hit the bed at around 5 a.m., but if I’m tired at 3… I go to bed. It’s a rare thing for me to push through when I’m sleepy.
Read a book or watch a movie.
Sometimes my mind needs a recharge. I’ve been working it too hard and it needs “downtime.” And, whenever I can manage it, that’s going to include a book!
You know, before 2012, I read at least three books a week—usually at least one a day. I was a crazy fast reader and devoured books with the gusto of a puppy with your favorite shoe. But then I hired Ashley, and that woman kept me writing so much that I almost never had time to read.
Last year, I decided that couldn’t happen anymore. So, I joined Celebrate Lit and at least made reading a legitimate part of my work. It works, okay?
I can’t hope to tell you how it feels when I have a book I HAVE to read. I’ve committed to it. It’s just oh, such a sacrifice. But hey. Someone’s gotta do it. In fact, recently I was behind and had WAY too much to do to take the time to read a book, but I had to get that review done and THIS was the result.
But, you know, when your brain is tired, sometimes it’s even too much to read. So, that’s when I just sit and stare at the TV screen for a while. I watch a movie, binge-watch that show my kids have been bugging me about, and then get back to work. It’s amazing how even following a mystery and trying to solve it can be relaxing for a tired brain.
Get up and get moving.
Sometimes it’s just to clean my room or fold some laundry. Now and then, I walk around the backyard with the dog, or I take an after-dark walk. I love to walk down to the light—sometimes to the next as well, and come back. Sometimes, that’s exactly what my brain needs to get rearing to go!
Yeah, Try explaining to someone, “Well, how I recharge is by getting energy out on a walk or a dash up and down the stairs.” They give you funny looks. Just sayin’.
Puzzles work when all else fails.
Sure, physical movement is a great idea, but that’s just not always possible, and sometimes I need a different kind of creativity. So, I’ll go into my room and start pulling out the rubber stamps. By the time I’m done making a card or two, I’m usually rearing to go. But, I’m not always home to do that!
If I’m working at Denny’s, I can’t just go for a walk or watch a movie. If I’m going to read a book, I’d rather do it in the comfort of my house. So, if I have a lot of work to do, and can’t take the time off, then I like to work online jigsaw puzzles or play WordTrek. I don’t know WHY doing something that taxes the brain also recharges mine, but it does! So I do it!